Go HomeSt George's Wharf, Vauxhall.

When it comes to proposals acting as tipping points for future developments few projects can be more important than St George's Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, which looks likely to be London's first 500ft+ residential tower.

Vauxhall almost saw a skyscraper cluster arrise in the early 1970s. A series of buildings along the edge of the Thames of between 350ft and 450ft were approved but the slump following the 1973 oil crisis saw that they never got started.
Their was also much fighting over the Effra site, including two public inquiries where each time the secretary of State decided against high-rise development. It is now this site that has been bought and developed into St George's Wharf complete with plans for a 181m tall centerpiece.

The Development.
Developer by St George their self-named St George's Wharf is a successful mid-rise development on the the South Bank of the Thames near Vauxhall which is now nearing completion and totals 72m in height.
It is located near a major transport interchange and has been zoned as one of six areas of London which are acceptable for tall buildings by both the government and Mayor.
Although the existing development is not particularly tall it has made a substantial difference to the skyline in the area which is largely medium rise and has almost completely sold out.
One section of land on the end of the site has yet to be developed and it's been proposed now to build a 181m residential tower. If built it will be the tallest residential project in the country by a large margin.

Project Details.

St George's Wharf Tower was originally concieved by Broadway Malayan and released to the public in 2000. A circular design, stepping up, it would be a revolutionary environmentally friendly tower, not only tall but also sporting a windturbine on the top - something that has never been done in London before - that would provide 50% of the buildings power.
It will contain a total of 167 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments on 48 floors, with the top floor for a mechanical penthouse and the turbine standing on top of this.
Following a number of criticisms from architectural and design bodies the tower has undergone a number of subtle redesigns, mostly to the outside with remodelling of the base and pinacle and changes to the colour of the cladding removing the rotating step. The end result is something less metallic and more glassy, but more importantly with a sheer look as the removal of the steps emphasise the height more.

The Public Inquiry and planning process.
The location of the tower has in the past been considered somewhat sensitive - it's proximity to the Palace of Westminster being the cause for high-rise proposals on the Effra site being rejected. This is despite the tower being almost completely obstructed from that view by Millbank Tower. Common sense seems to have won through this time and there has been no public inquiry despite the usual predictable calls.
The planning process has centered around changes to the outside of the tower which have changed the look but not the shape as recommended by CABE to assist it's progress through the planning which is common-place these days, but more importantly issues of planning gain.
The developer originally offered only 25% of the flats as affordable claiming that the wind turbine on the top should negate them having to make up the shortfall too as the Mayor of London's office expects. The Mayor's office responded in April by refusing the application not on the grounds of the design of the tower itself but because of the lack of public housing and the excess car-park spaces which is common sense given how close it is to the railway and tube stations in Vauxhall.
The garden was also recommended for remodelling to help shield the area from wind which will hit it from the Thames.
The developers have agreed to take into account these changes and the design has been resubmitted with 40% public housing.
Meanwhile in a shot across Lambeth Councils bows the Mayor's office warned London's councils that rejecting towers he had approved would lead to legal action, although he cannot compel a council to approve a tower.

Future Prospects.
Given the formal opposition to this tower stems mostly from disagreements over planning gain rather than the issue of building a skyscraper on this site. As the developer has agreed to the Mayor's proposals approval from his office looks likely before the end of the year. Lambeth council are said to be a bit cagey on the issue but whether they fancy a fight with both the Mayor and the developers in the court seems unlikely as the chances are they would lose.
London needs more homes and this development recognises both that and the need for environmentally sustainable housing and should be welcomed as such. SN.com is confident that St George's Wharf will see it's tower rise early next year. If asked for a percentage on whether it will be approved our our answer would be 90% positive.
This will be the first of a number of similar sized towers in an area zoned for such buildings by developers eager to cash on the success.
The end result can only mean more skyscrapers for London and with developers feeling they can get tall residential buildings approved, plus the current cost of land in London which is amongst the most expensive in the world, the skyline will look very different in ten years time.


The original...

...and the new.
Building specs.
Office Tower.
Height - 591ft/ 181m
Floors - 49
Start date - 2004
Completion - 2008